Six months after I graduated from nursing school, I got engaged to be married. I got married 4 months later. During the 1st year of marriage, I gained about 10 pounds, but I was still pleased with how I looked and felt. There is just something about being happily married that makes you a little complacent with your diet. The year after that, I was pregnant with my 1st child. I gained 38 pounds with my pregnancy. I did the Weight Watchers plan when my daughter was 6 months old and lost the last 15 pounds I had left in just few months.
Now I know that all of this seems like minor weight issues of a young adult women. Little did I know it was about to get much worse. I have had asthma since I was 11 years old. When I was 25 years old, I had a severe asthma attack and had to go on steroids. It took 3 years for me to get off of them. I had to be hospitalized for my asthma during that time and we struggled with multiple medications and doctors visits to keep my asthma under control. I couldn’t breathe very well so I couldn’t exercise very much, especially if the weather was cold, wet or the pollen counts were high. My weight exploded no matter what I did. I was so hungry all the time. I never felt like I was full. My weight went up to 220 pounds. It was the heaviest I had ever been. My face was really puffy. I had a “moon face” from the steroids. My weight stayed up there for a few years. I tried several diets during this time. Susan Powter was really popular so I did her diet. She was the queen of the low fat fad. She believed that you could lose weight if you kept your intake of fat really low, like 10%. She also was a huge advocate of eating things that weren’t processed. She said before you ate something, you should ask “Did it grow that way?”. I started eating more produce as a result of that question. However, just because something is low fat, doesn’t make it healthy. Many low fat items are loaded with sugar. I recall may mornings I would have a “whole wheat” bagel and fat free cream cheese for breakfast, or steel cut oats with honey and cut fruit. Both of those were considered healthy choices but are both loaded with sugar and carbs. I never looked at the sugar, carbs or really even the total calories of the things I ate. I calculated the percentage of fat and that is how I decided if it was ok for me to eat. I did lose some weight on this plan, but found it was not maintainable nor was it consistent. The low fat foods frequently lacked taste so there was no incentive to make them a part of your daily life, with the exception of fruits and vegetables. Low fat crackers, breads, etc taste like cardboard. I wanted to enjoy the things I ate.
To complicate matters even more, I had a second child during this time too. During my pregnancy, I had to spend 6 weeks on bedrest for preterm labor. Thankfully I only gained 13 pounds during my 2nd pregnancy and left the hospital a few pounds under my pre-pregnancy weight. Some doctors will tell you that breastfeeding is a good way to lose weight since it burns additional calories to produce breastmilk. I can tell you that that is a lie. I have breastfed all 3 of my children and I cannot lose weight while I am breastfeeding. Then, it was much harder to get to the gym and make healthy meals with 2 young children at home. My 2nd child was a demanding baby. He had colic as an infant, then developed severe separation anxiety when he got a little older. I couldn’t leave him with anyone, sometimes not even with my husband, or he would just scream until I got back. Weight loss was not my major focus. I wasn’t gaining weight at this point though. I was maintaining my weight, so I can’t beat myself up too much.
To be continued...